Pain management specialists work to improve the quality of life in patients suffering from chronic pain, working closely with patients to bring pain levels to as comfortable a level as possible.

Watch an Overview of Pain Management

About Pain Management

Pain management is an area of medicine encompassing the management and relief of both chronic and acute pain caused by a wide range of injuries, diseases and disorders. Physicians practicing pain management are trained to provide care that works to improve the overall quality of life in patients suffering from immense and debilitating pain, helping to alleviate or manage pain that interferes with day to day life and hampers normal activity. Pain management specialists are often leaders of a multidisciplinary medical team, providing care in settings such as pain management clinics. However, some patients may receive pain management care from general or family practitioners, among other specialists.

The majority of patients suffering from debilitating pain seek treatment from a pain management center or clinic, as previously mentioned. Clinics such as these are usually devoted solely to pain management and provide a wide range of medical services that encompass the management of pain. The management of pain typically encompasses a multidisciplinary approach, and may include specialists such as neurologists, psychiatrists, physical therapists, orthopedic physicians, occupational health specialists and other health care practitioners.

When treating chronic or acute pain, pain management specialists must create a treatment plan that is specific to each patient, as no two patients will react to or feel pain in exactly the same manner. Treatments that work for one person with a certain condition will not necessarily work for another patient suffering from the same or similar condition. To that extent, pain management is a highly personalized field of medicine that works to improve the quality of life in patients. Nonetheless, some treatment techniques include various forms of therapy, the injection of epidurals, the prescription of medications and surgical implants, among many others.

Pain Management Education & Training

The education and training required to become a pain management specialist depends upon the primary training of the physician. For example, many pain management specialists may have backgrounds in anesthesiology, but others may have residency training in areas such as neurology, neurosurgery, physical medicine, or orthopedics, among other areas. Nonetheless, all pain management physicians have completed an undergraduate degree, an MD or DO degree, and residency training prior to the completion of a pain management fellowship.

During a pain management fellowship, the physician gains clinical experience in the treatment of chronic, acute and cancer pain. Pain management specialists gain experience in the diagnosis and treatment of neuropathic pain, headaches, lower back pain and myofascial pain, among other sources of pain. Fellows are also trained in variety of treatment techniques designed to manage pain, including trigger point injections, physical therapy, epidurals, intrathecal implantation, radiogrequency ablation, intradiscal procedures and spinal cord stimulation, among other treatment modalities.

Following successful completion of a fellowship, most pain management specialists will seek board certification from the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, as well as any medical boards that provide certification in the area(s) of their residency or fellowship training. Like all other physicians, pain management specialists must seek state licensure in order to practice and provide treatment.